Hygge is a Danish concept similar in many ways to Mindfulness
Hygge is known as the pursuit of happiness and is a Danish concept. It is a combination of behavioural choices, cognitive modification, environmental adaptation, and philosophy. Pronounced “Hoogaar”, it is often used to sell comfort inducing products like knitwear and fluffy things, but actually has a far more serious purpose.
What does Hygge use to help mental health?
Denmark is often known as the happiest country on the planet, and according to the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark, this is partly because of the attitude, partly the work-life balance, and also due to a number of other factors. Read more HERE
Hygge aims to modify behaviour and perception so as to assist people in far more positive self care. It is not an attempt to pretend everything is perfect, but rather to proactively redress the experiential and cognitive balance.
By creating positive experience, Hygge helps people to experience more pleasure and happiness.
By being “present” in a mindfulness type manner, Hygge helps people to be less effected by emotions that are painful, and to respond to the useful emotional information with proactive and helpful choices. in this way Hygge is very similar to Japanese Zen Morita.
By engaging in sensory experience more fully, Hygge helps you to notice pleasure more comprehensively, where our internal “autopilot” may have distracted us. This is very similar to mindful eating, drinking and other related exercises.
Hygge encourages us to interact more positively with other people, pets, and nature. All of these enable us to experience positive relationship and experience dynamics.
Hygge teaches us to notice what makes us happy and gives us pleasure, often things we have forgotten, been distracted from remembering, or have not prioritised, and to incorporate them proactively into life.
Main principles of Hygge
- Pleasure (finding and incorporating into self care and life)
- Presence (being present and mindful)
- Participation (being more engaged and interpersonal)
Hygge also teaches us to really engage the senses of smell, taste, sound and touch more proactively to experience pleasure and to be more mindful.
Being more mindful and less obedient to our emotions enables acceptance, compassion and presence.
Hygge is not about temporary quick fixes, it requires relearning life balance in order to better self care and to increase wellbeing. It requires planning and engagement as well as spontaneous examples of fun and wellbeing. Examples of planning include:
- Hygge environment: Creating “Hot spots” of cosiness and comfort around your personal environment, and experiencing what nature can provide such as green spaces.
- Hygge rituals: Making certain necessary behaviours Hygge and pleasure inducing. Examples might be the processes of drinking coffee or tea, having a bath or retiring to bed. Rather than purely functional perhaps smelling freshly ground coffee beans, having an aromatherapy bath and having a particular cosy duvet or sleeping clothes. It is very individual and personal.
- Hygge Schedule: Although spontaneous is good, having a commitment to make room in our crowded lives for Hygge is essential. This in particular means boundaries and demarcation. For example at the end of the work day turning off communication for work completely. Not being glued to social media when you are supposed to be relaxing with a loved one. Not polluting the sleeping area with lots of stimuli like tablets and laptops (sleep sanitising).
What Hygge achieves
Hygge helps us to model part of why our Danish friends are so happy and recreate it. It also means we make the best of our day to day life. We can not avoid every problem that comes our way, but we can ensure we balance the tough times with pleasure, and set boundaries to ensure our entire lives are not seemingly on a hamster wheel!
Positive stress management and well being are essential in self care for most mental health conditions and are referred to as psycho-education. It is also important in stress management for prevention, as well as simply enjoying life more.
Changing our experiences means that we change our neuro-chemical reactions. As we learn and develop through new developmental experiences we lay down different neural pathways. Making real changes to well being, perception and behaviour in a holistic and meaningful way enables real personal psychological change.
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